Media & enterprise

The 'media and enterprise' programme focuses on the economic issues that have an impact on the activities of all companies, including those in the media industry. By overcoming the constraints of competition, optimising programme schedules and guaranteeing a long-term revenue stream, broadcasters are able to consolidate their business models and ensure financial independence, and thus editorial independence. This programme is also helping to enhance business relations, with broadcasters from the developing world being encouraged to forge partnerships with French companies.

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1.General Context

Media businesses are just like any other businesses, and to consider them as such and to help them define a realistic economic model to suit their environment is a given if they are to be encouraged to respect the principles of pluralism or freedom of expression. The economic dimension of the media, be this microeconomics and management or macroeconomics and market analysis, is thus key and is the subject of a specific programme to complement the three others.

Media businesses are just like any other businesses, and to consider them as such and to help them define a realistic economic model to suit their environment is a given if they are to be encouraged to respect the principles of pluralism or freedom of expression.

The economic issues facing businesses operating in countries in the South are characterised by the international development agencies ( United Nations Agencies, bilateral cooperation agreements, development agencies, etc.). Whilst the globalisation of markets leads to a convergence of practices and trade conditions, development stakeholders are monitoring modernisation of States and the reform of businessmanagement practices.

The media face the same issues and are exposed to the same international pressures as the administrative fabric and businesses in the South.
In the media sector as in other fields, the openingup of markets to competition has revealed a need for better structuring and harmonisation, at various levels, for all economic actors in developing countries.

The French media cooperation focuses specifically on economic issues sector companies in order to provide context-specific responses

In countries in the South, international expertise is confronted with three different forms of media business that are exposed to different economic challenges when planning their modernisation:

  • The public media – TV and radio stations, press agencies and also the written press – which are generally State media and sometimes even government departments for which the challenge is to convert into public sector businesses in order to survive in an increasingly open media landscape. Statutory reform is often a necessary first step to a modernisation process, enabling the new public enterprises to become more dynamic and to gain credibility vis-à-vis their competitors.
  • The private media – TV and radio stations, or the written press – set up from the outset as businesses, but requiring modernisation and improved management in order to increase their income, to take on the competition and to guarantee their future development.
  • The "new" media, born of oneoff or group grassroutes initiatives, with their origins in civil society, community radio or online media, for which the challenge is to make the transition from committed activism to selfsufficient, long-term economic model without losing the independence and enthusiasm that are their strength.

2.The challenges facing media business development

Media development companies is a translation into multiple challenges can be grouped into four main priorities:

Improving media autonomy through better management

For many years now, much of the media in the South has delayed organisational streamlining by taking refuge in a closed, highly controlled and uncompetitive sector. The most open markets (in certain countries in East Africa or South Asia) have, however, initiated modernisation well ahead of those (in a number of countries in West Africa and in the Arab countries) where the domestic media landscape was under the tightest control.

Regardless of their bilaws or structure, media enterprises face problems of organisation and supervision (relationships with the authorities, shareholders or financial partners, establishment of medium- and longterm strategies, intermediate management's appropriation of the editorial line, etc.).

Regardless of their bilaws or structure, media enterprises face problems of organisation and supervision

The first economic challenge thus concerns streamlining the support structure: mandate, positioning, objectives. Once these foundations are in place and are understood by all concerned, there is the problem of organisation and adapting the workflow and individual contributions to the effective management of the business. Dysfunctional aspects, such as the weakness of intermediate management, affect not only public groups, which are often burdened with inherited excess staffing numbers and weak management structures, but also young internet startups, which conversely are financed solely by their creators.

Team organisation, decisionmaking processes, feedback, the multidisciplinary nature of certain projects, and even HR policy within a media business are all issues shared by major companies in every country.

Management challenges also, at a different level, concern civil society actors, which are as yet informal microstructures. The transition from activist group to small business requires the establishment of major management principles (sharing of responsibility, decisionmaking, etc.), which will guarantee the future of such initiatives.

International expertise enables beneficiary media to step back and to identify their needs for reform and reorganisation with a view to advancing their organisation and management.

Better financed media

The second challenge concerns the financial resources that the media have to put together to cover not only operating costs but also investment.

The direct or indirect influence of resources on business management and independence also has to be addressed. Such resources will make it possible to operate and also to map out an investment strategy in order to improve productivity and preserve production quality levels. Sound allocation of resources between these two priorities is paramount at a time when the transition to digital is not only mandatory and carries with it immense profit but is also fraught with danger in so far as it is accompanied by the openingup of markets and increased competition.

In addition to the potential risk in terms of editorial independence, a lack of resources leads media businesses to seek an easy way out, expanding their audience without investment and also waving goodbye to income. One of the most widespread solutions, in the case of TV stations in countries in the South, is the adoption of bartering. Directors are able to adapt to changes in public taste by drawing on an abundant offering but without having to acquire rights in the selected programmes. By losing control over their advertising slots, they reduce not only the economic spread of their business but also any ambition to control their own development.

Financial challenges do not weigh on the media in the same way in all cases; it all depends on status.

In the case of the public media, planned, ongoing public funding allows a medium and longterm view to be taken, ideally in the form of a contract of agreed objectives with the State, whilst systematic recourse to exceptional means to offset structural underfinancing gives the authorities genuine power to interfere. Market resources (advertising, partnerships) have to be viewed within the overall context of the mandate and market equilibrium: acceptability, competitors' practices, other options (subscriptions), etc.

In the case of the private media, funding from rich sponsors can raise ethical issues.In the case of the private media, funding from rich sponsors can raise ethical issues. Even an unfounded suspicion of bias might tarnish the public's view of the media. This pressure is accompanied by an increasingly aggressive competitive context in countries where the global media landscape is opening up rapidly.

International expertise can assist in the strategic planning of media businesses, which cannot take their eye off the ball and have to be proactive in order to optimise their existing resources and to work towards the development of new income.

In the television sector, and to a lesser extent in radio broadcasting, this involves, for example:

  • the development of schedules (and objective knowledge of the competition) so that they can offer advertisers more rewarding slots than the long commercial sequences that scare off the public
  • the preparation of content around structured partnerships (funding of a slot, of a broadcast, of a concept)
  • the consolidation of media image through (direct or editorialised) coverage of major world (soccer World Cup, Olympic Games, etc.) or local (national and regional) sports competitions.

The local media, which is sometimes still highly informal, are the last word in terms of networks for reaching out to populations, but their economic basis is, by its very nature, precarious. To make them more durable, it appears to be preferable for them to have a firm basis in their environment through financing built up with local partners sharing the same turf rather than for them to be dependent on only funding from international sponsors or NGOs, which use them as adhoc communication supports. This 'manna from heaven' has to be seized upon to invest in and to structure the media but cannot form a replacement for longterm funding, otherwise an entire cohort of players are doomed to become redundant at the end of the campaign or programme.

Generally speaking, media financing has to be viewed as just as important in terms of structuring as editorial line. As for all other businesses, a good idea is not enough on which to base a company's survival. International expertise must not impose a financing model that works elsewhere, but must assist the media in the South in inventing their own economical model for their own particular circumstances.

Generally speaking, media financing has to be viewed as just as important in terms of structuring as editorial line.

The media have a powerful maximising effect on their country’s economy

The funding issue has to be examined within the broader context of the market of the country or countries where the business operates. As the Latin root suggests, the media are in fact intermediaries between society's stakeholders and their public. The more dynamic the national economy, the more the media are able to expand their funding base. Far from being passive players profiting from their environment, the media make a contribution to their country's development, enabling a number of sectors to enhance their economic impact through media exposure.

The written press, in the early days, and then radio, television and, in present times, the online media have all helped to consolidate the impact of the economic stakeholders who provide the content that the public expects to see. Media exposure thus has a direct or indirect effect on the size of various sectors:

  • Advertising: The media are advertisers' preferred means of communication, and nonmedia advertising campaigns never reach more than 25% of advertising's global market. Advertising is expanding in line with the media offering, and to various degrees affects the majority of population segments. There is a particularly strong correlation with growth in national consumption.
  • The sports market is even more dependent upon the media, given that its recent development is linked to the explosion in prices of TV exploitation rights. The concept that first made its appearance at the time of the 1960 Rome Olympic Games now finances almost 90% of sports federations. In countries in the South, a number of obstacles still have to be overcome if these very popular programmes are to take full advantage of the broadcasting media in terms of revenue and image alike.
  • Artistic creation (musical, audiovisual, literature) has both an outlet and a maximising effect in the media, in the form of broadcasting, promotion or popularisation space. The direct impact of this media development is identification with a national culture based on local artists and creators. Yet, there is all too rarely an accompanying valuecreating force in countries in the South, in favour of either creators or broadcasters.

Shakira, the inaugural concert of the football World Cup in Soweto on 10 June 2011. Credit Sean Nel

Lastly, the impact on the surrounding market also affects the media in terms of complementarity and contentsharing. A live TV studio broadcast, for example, is constrained by its format. Association with radio broadcasting or a website allows exchange and requires the guests to respond to questions from the public. Production costs are shared and the crossmedia approach guarantees each partner maximum promotion. At a time when the use of multiple media is imposing new consultation methods, certain stakeholders are able to facilitate production of content in a number of forms, thereby reaching out to a wider audience.

The media and globalisation

Economic constraints on media in countries in the South are mirrored by international pressure on a number of levels:

  • Competition from external media: The digital revolution is offering more and more opportunities to access the media in neighbouring countries. These media often have a close relationship with a segment of the public, for linguistic and cultural reasons. Close, external competition of this type is extremely effective since in areas that share a particular culture, often separated only by political boundaries, productions from a neighbouring country can easily meet a population's needs and be a drain on advertising funding.
    Exposure to powerful international offerings, furthermore, is an increasingly aggressive form of competition, with social networks and other websites picking up news content for each major event.
    The globalisation of the sector is redefining the boundaries of national media landscapes and forcing media businesses in the South to be proactive in the face of people's new consumption habits.
  • The risk of being confined to the role of passive subcontractor: The growing call for greater content originating from the South is leading numbers of stakeholders from the North to diversify and to enter into collaborations with businesses in developing countries.
    The windfall effect of this sudden demand should not lead stakeholders in the South to become mere subcontractors. On the contrary, such opportunities must be grasped in order to enhance production standards, to promote a generation of better qualified professionals and to stimulate competition through financing emanating from more mature markets.
  • Expertise in production techniques and livebroadcast coverage: The biggest sports, cultural or political events taking place in countries in the South are, even today, produced by companies from the more developed countries, and their production methods, offered in the form of costly temporary arrangements, provide no profit for the local economy.
    The development of such capabilities consolidates the international image of those countries who make the effort, transforming them into more credible candidates for organising regional or continentwide events.

Through their economic relationships with partners in the North, the media in the South have a number of opportunities for progress. For many years simply the recipients of state handouts, these new activities are their opportunity to raise their sights higher and to improve their professional standards.

In this sector, international expertise has, at the same time, a damping and enhancing effect in terms of promoting better skills for partners in the South so that the latter are not merely adhoc subcontractors.

The 2013 SEA Games 2013, the Olympics of Southeast Asia, took place in Burma. Forever TV station was committing a significant amount of resources in order to provide international coverage for nine of the events, and intended to have a studio broadcasting non-stop throughout the Games with the help of CFI.

3.CFI’s responses in the field of business

CFI has chosen three areas for action:

  • The financial autonomy and sound management of media businesses
  • The organisation and stimulation of the local media market
  • The inclusion of the media from the South in equitable globalisation

Enhancing autonomy

This response relates not only to the sound management of businesses but also to resource issues. Management is the foundation used by any business in order to operate. The media cannot ignore this aspect, which allows decisions to be taken and activities to be implemented freely and flexibly and also efficiently. A structured approach, which is often complicated to achieve, is a prerequisite if media modernisation is to be addressed. Other procedural problems in terms of management arise for the digital media which structure themselves as businesses and make the changeover from a model carried by a creator to a group organisation.

Long-term issues for the recipient countries

  • Financial autonomy of media businesses
  • Sound management of public or commercial resources

Key project objectives

  • Ensuring the economic viability of media businesses, a guarantee of their independence
  • Allowing the sector to develop
  • Attracting investment

Recipient media requirements

  • Adaptation to the digital revolution
  • Improvement of organisation, management and administration
  • Improvement of commercial performance
  • Promotion of change

CFI's responses

  • To advise managers wishing to reorganise their business
  • To outline workflows (job descriptions and team organisation)
  • To advise on and to supervise the production of new management procedures
  • To train commercial and administrative teams
  • To provide the keys to audience survey analysis (with decisionmaking)
  • To manage crises (team management, relationships with trustees/shareholders)

Measures of Impact

  • Expansion of the financing base
  • Development of new partnerships
  • Putting anticipatory management tools in place

2015 Objectif pub

2015 Objectif pub is a project that aims to mentor the development of three commercial television channels in Africa through the medium of workshops aimed at raising professional standards amongst their commercial (control room) and programming (schedules) teams whilst providing better links between the programme trades and the commercial trades. Knowledge of markets, audiences and the competition, and the identification of opportunities, will enable these managers to take a step back from their activity.

CFI is working with the television professionals who are leaders in their respective markets (Canal2 in Cameroon, ORTB in Benin, RTB in Burkina Faso) with a view to addressing competition, which will intensify with the advent of DTT. Beyond optimising their practices, the potential new resources will constitute opportunities for development.

See more about this project :

Objectif Pub initiative

Stimulating the national market

Media businesses have to learn how to defend their interests if they are to expand their resources by taking advantage of the activities they are developing (advertising, sports events, etc.). As value creators, they can endeavour to profit from the economic interests they generate. The media are also central players in a country's cultural sphere (principally, audiovisual production). They give precedence to content but also have a role in motivating a sector that they in part finance.

Longterm issues for the recipient countries

  • Organisation of a valuecreating media market
  • Development of a contentproduction industrial fabric (if size critical)
  • Cultural identity consolidated by using local productions

Key project objectives

  • Stimulating the local production market
  • Diversifying supply and stimulating competition
  • Building links between producers, broadcasters, advertisers and the public

Recipient media requirements

  • An understanding of a complete market's integrated approach
  • Openings for partnership with producers and advertisers
  • Strengthening of schedules based around rejuvenated slots
  • Globalisation of audiovisual production standards (procedures, human resources, equipment)

CFI's Responses

  • Analysing public requirements (audience surveys) to define specifications for calls for projects from production companies
  • Bringing together producers and broadcasters to investigate potential partnerships and to implement production policies that are adapted to public expectations
  • Studying public expectations to select productions that will enable the broadcaster to reinforce its image and to expand its audience
  • To help producers produce to international standards, to compete with certain imported content and to export their productions

Measures of Impact

  • The settingup of production management
  • The allocation of acquisition budgets (prepurchase or purchase) to retain control of schedules and to develop editorial choices
  • Improved development of national productions – dedicated slots, agreements with local producers, investment in local production, publication of calls for productions, etc.
  • Improving the resources and profitability of the media concerned

Afrique au féminin

For the Afrique au féminin project, CFI approached Canal+ to publicise a call for documentary projects reserved for female African directors living in subSaharan Africa. 15 such directors were selected and have received advice in implementing this project to the exacting standards of the French broadcaster.

CFI has mentored these directors in the aspects of writing, production and postproduction for these documentaries, for which Canal+ has prepurchased the rights and broadcast the best examples over its encrypted Canal+ Afrique channel.

Being involved in globalisation of the sector

By making the transition to digital, the media are freeing themselves of the restrictions of the national environment that was their traditional turf. This globalisation of access to content is leading stakeholders in the North to invest in countries in the South. Partnerships are more balanced and profitable for both parties and companies in the South are taking advantage of these opportunities to raise the professional standard of their working procedures. Cooperation can help to facilitate collaborations on high-profile projects.

Long-term issues for the recipient countries

  • Reinforcement of the production sector by means of strategic partnerships
  • Becoming a stakeholder in the international market in order to purchase and sell content or to organise major events

Key project objectives

  • To improve productions through developments with French producers
  • To develop a presence on the international market (exports)
  • To raise standards in the market through the development of projects with an international focus
  • To develop the sector's capabilities for producing an international signal to international standards

Recipient media requirements

  • Making local teams more professional in order to raise production standards
  • Greater production rigour

CFI's responses

  • Training teams of local producers
  • Training production teams in the development of their new projects
  • Facilitating the implementation of joint projects between local partners and French companies

Measures of impact

  • An increase in the number of partnerships between French companies and countries in the South
  • The broadcasting of local content over international channels

CFI is currently developing a number of projects, in Africa and South-East Asia, to monitor the installation of French producers (Canal+ in Africa, Lagardère in Africa and in Asia) wishing to implement a more intensive international production policy in developing countries. CFI supports this strategy by advising their local partners in their efforts to respond to the expectations of the international market.

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